Greene King Leisure Tracker – eating out spend increases in April despite leisure fall: Leisure spend fell in April despite a £2 (2%) increase in eating out spend, according to the latest Greene King Leisure Spend Tracker. While the rise would appear modest, viewing the figures in the context of Easter shows eating out performed well. This April (a non-Easter month) saw spending on eating out surpass that of last year (an Easter month), illustrating the growing trends towards eating out. Year-on-year, spend on drinking out was unchanged but it represented a strong performance given it kept pace with the Easter month of April 2015. The average British household spent £206 on out-of-home leisure, a £10 (5%) decrease month-on-month due to a stronger March because of this year’s Easter date. This was also a £9 (4%) decrease in overall spend year-on-year driven by a £10 (12%) drop in spending on other leisure. Year-on-year, spend on other leisure declined significantly, with the British average falling by £10 (12%) year-on-year and £5 (6%) month-on-month. The Tracker also found a third of British football fans intend to watch at least one game of the European Championships in a pub this summer. This trend is driven by young fans between the ages of 18 and 24, with 60% of them planning to cheer on their team from a pub during the tournament. The Tracker also demonstrated the value of the pub as a sports venue is based on the great atmosphere it offers, with more than a third of all respondents answering that the atmosphere in the pub was important – more than the pub’s location, quality of the viewing and even the availability, variety and cost of the food and drinks on offer. Given the timing of many of the matches, several respondents said they would like their employer to allow them to watch the games during work hours. For the England versus Wales game, scheduled to take place at 2pm on Thursday, 16 June, more than double the number of respondents said they intended to watch the game in a pub than those who plan to watch it in their workplace, indicating the pub remains a venue of choice for fans regardless of work hours. Greene King group marketing director Fiona Gunn said: “With such a large proportion of the British population planning to enjoy games in a pub alongside friends, family or colleagues, it is clear it remains a well-established social venue for Brits. The importance of the pub’s atmosphere highlights that the character of the pub remains at the forefront of consumers’ minds when deciding where they will watch the upcoming games. At Greene King, we are pleased to see that the popularity of the pub as a sports venue remains high. To ensure we offer football fans the most optimum viewing experience possible, we have invested in creating a great atmosphere across our pubs by decorating the pubs with flags and bunting and offering quizzes, games and competitions before, during and after screenings of the games. We look forward to welcoming all customers to our pubs for this exciting tournament.”
European Commission clears AB InBev’s £71bn takeover of SABMiller: Anheuser-Busch InBev’s (AB InBev) £71bn takeover of SABMiller has been approved by the European Commission. AB InBev said the clearance was a “significant milestone for the deal in keeping with its ambition to secure the necessary regulatory approvals that will allow for closing in the second half of 2016”. The company stated: “To achieve European Commission approval at this stage and consistent with AB InBev’s approach to proactively addressing potential regulatory considerations, AB InBev entered into an agreement for the sale of the Peroni, Grolsch and Meantime brands and their associated businesses in Italy, the Netherlands, UK and internationally (excluding certain US rights) to Asahi. The European Commission has approved Asahi as the purchaser of these businesses. AB InBev also proposed the sale of SABMiller’s businesses in central and eastern Europe (Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Poland and Romania). The central and eastern European businesses can be sold to one or two purchasers and can be completed after closing of AB InBev’s proposed combination with SABMiller. These divestments are conditional on the successful closing of the recommended combination of AB InBev with SABMiller, and in the case of the central and eastern European assets on the European Commission’s approval of the purchaser(s) as suitable purchasers. With the European Commission clearance, the recommended combination of AB InBev with SABMiller has been cleared in 14 jurisdictions. Clearance decisions (some of which are subject to conditions) have now been obtained: in Asia-Pacific: Australia (both antitrust and foreign investment), India and South Korea; in South America: Chile, Colombia, and Mexico; in Africa: Botswana, Kenya, Namibia, Swaziland and Zambia; and in Europe: the EU, Albania and Ukraine. Approval in Ecuador is subject to certain conditions. In the remaining jurisdictions where regulatory clearance is still pending, AB InBev will continue to engage proactively with the relevant authorities to obtain the necessary clearances as quickly as possible.”
UK hotel investment hits record high in 2015, more growth forecast: Investment volumes in the hotel sector hit an all-time high in the UK last year, reaching a total of £5.89bn, according to research by property consultants Knight Frank, which forecasts more growth for the rest of 2016. The sector accounted for 8.29% of total UK commercial real estate investment volumes last year, with Knight Frank predicting momentum would continue during 2016, driven by the break-up of portfolios and increased sale and leaseback activity. Knight Frank said the positive outlook came despite disruptive activity in the hotel sector, such as the rise of home-sharing sites such as Airbnb and Onefinestay. Knight Frank head of hotels Ian Elliott told Property Week: “Despite emerging challenges, we expect the hotel industry will continue to witness strong results as investors look for better returns on their investments. The investment volume pattern of the past three years, in addition to an expected increase in regional developments, suggests 2016 could be another record-breaking year.”
Burgers off the menu at Chiltern Firehouse celebrity haunt following Westminster council ruling: Marylebone restaurant Chiltern Firehouse, which has become a magnet for A-list celebrities, has removed burgers from its menu after falling foul of Westminster City Council. Burgers had been the bedrock of the restaurant’s menu but a recent health inspection reduced its food hygiene rating from four out of five stars to two because chefs “occasionally” cook burgers “rare” if requested. Instead of compromising, the restaurant, owned by André Balazs, has removed burgers entirely from its menu. A source at the restaurant said: “Sadly the burger has now been taken off the menu. We’re not willing to compromise on our perfect burger to serve something that has been cooked to death to satisfy a council directive.” A Westminster City Council spokesperson said: “We recently visited the Chiltern Firehouse for a routine inspection. We follow the Food Standards Agency guidance and rating system and our first priority is always the safety of the public.” Chiltern Firehouse said it planned to appeal the decision and has requested a re-inspection.
AIG launches equity crowdfunding insurance product to protect investors: Global insurance company American International Group (AIG) has launched an equity crowdfunding product to protect investors. It is the first insurance product developed specifically to protect investors on equity crowdfunding platforms against issuer fraud. Crowdfunding Fidelity protects individual investors against the theft of issuer assets by issuer directors, officers or general employees, which cause a direct loss to the individual investor. The coverage is available to platforms in the UK and Canada. Eureeca, an equity crowdfunding platform registered in the UK and based in Dubai, is the first platform to purchase the coverage. AIG president of liability and financial lines Lex Baugh said: “As a sector still in its infancy, equity crowdfunding platforms are only as strong as the confidence they instill in their investors. This new product will help provide that confidence and help to support this asset class as it matures.”
Big Easy strengthens management team to take brand to next level following Canary Wharf success: Big Easy has appointed six members to its senior management team following the “overwhelming success, which surpassed all expectations” of its £3.5m flagship site in Canary Wharf. The 400-cover Bar B.Q & Lobster Shack launched in November and Big Easy founder Paul Corrett said he had brought on board “several key personnel with a wealth of experience to build on the brand’s enduring popularity and take the business to the next level”. Jean-Baptiste Requien has been appointed to the newly created position of operations director south, supporting Big Easy’s three London restaurants and overseeing potential openings. Damon Kestle will join as operations director north, overseeing the new site to open in Edinburgh this year, as well as future openings in the north. Helen Cook has been appointed marketing and commercial director and will oversee a number of projects in the Big Easy pipeline. Dinuka Bandara Gunasekara also joins in the newly created role of director of coffee, initially focusing on Canary Wharf, then moving into a development role across the group. New group executive chef Marcos Georgiou joins from Jamie’s Italian, where he worked as chef director for the past three years, overseeing 21 UK restaurants and opening 22 sites internationally. Also joining is human resources director Elisabete Gomes Taveres, formerly HR business partner at Azzurri Group-owned Zizzi Restaurants.
Grand Union reports Ebitda up 21% to £1.5m: Grand Union, the London-based bar operator led by Adam Marshall, has reported sales increased 11.4% to £8.1m for the year ended 26 March 2016, with a 21% increase in site Ebitda to £1.5m with all sites showing strong like-for-like growth. Trading in the early part of the 2016/17 financial year has been encouraging and the business is expected to make further sales and profit progress this year. The company, which celebrates its tenth anniversary this year reports it is ‘actively assessing opportunities for expansion’. The company is preparing to open Trade Union at Thomas More Square, Wapping, a significant evolution of our brand. The 6,300 sq ft site is designed to be a multi-layered experience. In addition to an enhanced restaurant and bar offering, the company has entered into partnerships with selected trades who are experts in their field. This will include an artisan coffee house, florist and barber shop along with a free work-spacing environment for day use. Chairman Luke Johnson said: “The growth of the company over the last year has been very pleasing. Grand Union has a solid and improving business, which provides an excellent platform on which to build. The company has demonstrated its offering has real resonance with existing customers and can attract new patrons. Adam’s Trade Union concept is a new avenue about which we are all very excited. It retains some important elements of the existing brand, and brings a new concept through strategic partners. We believe this could be a transformative step for the business.” Marshall added: “The last year has shown the positive results of our various business initiatives, such as enhancing our outdoor spaces, developing our drink and food offerings, and investing in our people. Our customers have responded positively and we are confident of future opportunities to improve trading performance and growth potential.”
Mitchells & Butlers undertakes rebrand of O’Neill’s, roll-out to start in Birmingham: Mitchells & Butlers has undertaken a rebrand of its 36-strong O’Neill’s pub brand. The company has worked with Cheshire-based marketing agency MMP Global to established a “Craic Central” concept, which will promote a “great atmosphere, fine food and good drink”, as well as live sports and music for which O’Neill’s is already known. It will initially roll-out in Birmingham, before going nationwide over the next few years. MMP Global, which is part of APS Group, has developed brand guidelines, values and a “brand essence” video for O’Neill’s. Georgia Marshall Brown, digital marketing and communications strategist at MMP Global, told Prolific North: “Mitchells & Butlers came to us with an understanding that its O’Neill’s pubs needed a brand refresh, but weren’t exactly sure what that new look should be. The challenge for us was ensuring we did not alienate its current customer base, while still attracting new customers. We started by looking at the current generation of customers and extended the offering to the next generation, who might be their sons and daughters.”
Smashburger to open further five sites over next year as it prepares for UK debut: Better burger brand Smashburger has revealed it will open a further five sites over the next year ahead of making its UK debut tomorrow (Wednesday, 25 May). The brand is launching its first restaurant at the Kingston Centre retail park in Milton Keynes and its UK master franchisee MSG Group has now acquired further locations in Brighton, Newcastle, Glasgow, Bath and Wednesbury. The next restaurant will open in Brighton in July as it takes over the two-floor, 2,666 square foot site previously occupied by Mucho Burrito in North Street. Two openings are planned for the autumn in Newcastle and Bath. The Newcastle restaurant will open at the Intu Eldon Square shopping centre, as part of the of the new dining quarter that forms part of the complex’s £25m refurbishment. Meanwhile, Smashburger Bath will launch in the city centre in SouthGate Street. The first Scottish venture in the Sauchiehall Centre in Glasgow will open at the end of the year while a site has also been secured at the Junction 9 Retail Park in Wednesbury in the West Midlands for an early 2017 opening. UK managing director Tim Lowther said: “There’s a £2.8bn burger market in the UK and we believe there’s massive room for growth for the right brand. The way we cook our burgers at Smashburger is unique and the result is a much better burger. We are confident consumers will taste the difference and are very excited to be opening a further five sites in the next 12 months. We are aiming for 35 over the next few years, creating up to 1,400 new jobs.” Smashburger, which has 335 restaurants in 35 US states and seven countries, was founded by former McDonald’s executive Tom Ryan.
Leeds events entrepreneur plans first restaurant: A Leeds entrepreneur behind a successful party night operating in the UK, Dubai and Marbella has unveiled plans for a contemporary Chinese restaurant in the heart of his home town’s business district. Ray Chan, promoter of Candypants Events, intends to develop his restaurant and bar venture in an unused basement at West Point in Whitehall Road. West Point, a multipurpose apartment and leisure building, is located close to Central Square, the £100m office scheme set to be anchored by PwC, and well-known food and drink establishments such as Buca Di Pizza Restaurant and Cocktail Bar. Chan is working with business partner Kai Man and enlisted Jamie Hanson from architects’ practice Coda Studio to work on the project, which takes its inspiration from Hong Kong. Coda has drawn up plans for the 3,250 square foot space, which incorporates a main dining area, two private dining rooms, a bar and DJ booth. The application has now been granted permission by Leeds City Council. Serving contemporary Chinese food, the as yet unnamed restaurant is expected to create up to 30 jobs and is the first venture into the industry by Candypants entrepreneur Chan. The entrepreneur has recruited two “hugely talented” chefs from London for the venture as he looks to change the perception of Chinese dining.
Handmade Burger Co to add 15 sites in next three years: Chris Sargeant, one of the founding brothers of Birmingham-based Handmade Burger Co, said the company plans to add 15 sites to its 25-strong portfolio during the next three years. Sargeant launched his first restaurant with brother Richard in Birmingham in 2006 and now operates venues across East and West Midlands, Yorkshire, the north east and Scotland, as well as sites in Manchester, London, Reading and Southampton. Outlining his ambitions to Business Insider, Sargeant said Handmade Burger Co was targeting five additional locations in the coming 12 months, including sites in Bristol and Glasgow. He said: “We also have a pipeline of similar numbers over the next two to three years. It’s a steady race and because this is a long-term business, we want to grow sensibly and in a way that protects the things that are important to us.” Sargeant said he was unconcerned about competitors making the most of the burger chain boom. He said: “When we have a competitor open next to us or in the same city, we think there’s enough to go around and we know how we stand out. For us, we haven’t seen the boom affect us at all. If anything, it just gives customers more choice.”
Roll-out Restaurants opens joint Chicken Shop & Dirty Burger venue in Wimbledon: Roll-out Restaurants, the restaurant offshoot of Soho House, has opened a joint Chicken Shop & Dirty Burger site in Wimbledon with the menu, created by Soho House founder Nick Jones, offering original Chicken Shop dishes as well as Dirty Burger classics. The company has also added the Dirty Burger menu to its Chicken Shop site in St John’s Wood, making it Chicken Shop & Dirty Burger St John’s Wood. Wimbledon is the tenth site in London to offer the Dirty Burger menu, with sister restaurants also in Barcelona and Chicago. Guests can choose from signature Dirty Burger Cheeseburger, Dirty Bacon or vegetarian Dirty Cop-Out. Three cuts of beef are used in the patties, including rump and sirloin. At the weekend, the breakfast menu includes a range of muffins. Chickens are roasted and served quartered, halved or whole. Accompanying sauces include Smokey and Hot, both created on-site and exclusive to Chicken Shop. The birds are marinated overnight using a specially developed recipe and then steamed to lock in flavour and keep the meat succulent. Just before serving, the whole chickens are transferred to the bespoke rotisserie grill, where they are cooked over charcoal and wood. The 70-cover restaurant has been designed in-house by Jones and his team, inspired by the look and feel of 1950s American general stores.
Costa releases animated preview of new ‘Paradise Street’ roastery: Costa Coffee has released an animation to give people a flavour of its £38m roastery in Basildon, which is on target to open in early 2017. The CGI video reveals how the “Paradise Street” roastery will look and operate. The factory will produce 45,000 tonnes of coffee a year, with a major focus on sustainability, including bays for charging electric cars, solar power and a rainwater harvesting system. Whitbread-owned Costa said the new roastery’s location showed the company’s commitment to remaining a UK business, with its first blend produced by the Costa brothers in London in 1971. Costa managing director Christopher Rogers said: “Basildon is set to become the centre of our UK business network – sustainably grown coffee beans will land in the UK and travel the short distance from Tilbury Docks in Essex to our new roastery. The project is such a fantastic opportunity for us to drive investment into the Basildon area and we look forward to being part of the local community.” The release of the video comes after last week’s publication of a CBRE study, which found the number of coffee shop chain branches had increased almost twenty-fold in the past 17 years. Last year, Costa’s sales were up by more than 15% and it opened almost 200 stores.
Pod appoints Olympic gold medallist Laura Trott as brand ambassador: Healthy fast food retailer Pod has appointed world champion cyclist and double Olympic gold medallist Laura Trott as ambassador to promote the company’s 22-strong restaurant group. Trott has been appointed to the role for an initial three-year period and will appear in a series of promotions giving Pod customers an insight into the “lifestyle and choices that have to be made by an elite sportswoman at the very top of her game”. Trott, who will appear at the Olympic Games in Rio in August, said: “I have had a career of making sacrifices to achieve my success, and Pod’s commitment to produce innovative, nutritious food shows people can still enjoy fantastic tasting fast food even when they are looking after their health.” Pod chairman John Postlethwaite said: “I think it’s a perfect fit and supports our belief we are the leading and most innovative healthy fast food group in our sector. We have exciting plans to grow the chain rapidly over the next couple of years. To have the support of one of the world’s leading female athletes, as well as her being such a popular and kind personality, is fantastic news for the company.’” Pod was founded in 2005 by Tim Hall and operates 22 venues in London.
Multi-site operator set to turn Altrincham working men’s club into micro-brewery, bar and restaurant: A Manchester-based multi-site operator plans to turn the former Altrincham Conservative Working Men’s Club into a micro-brewery, bar and restaurant. David Vanderhook, owner of The George Charles gastro-pub in West Didsbury and Lime at Salford Quays, has applied for planning permission for the Greenwood Street building, which is opposite the town’s flourishing market, the Manchester Evening News reports. The proposals outline a “family-friendly restaurant and bar incorporating a small micro-brewery and al fresco dining to the street front”, which would be created following a sympathetic renovation of the building, which dates to 1887 and forms part of the old marketplace conservation area.
Living Ventures granted licence to open The Alchemist in Newcastle: Living Ventures has been granted a licence to open a branch of The Alchemist cocktail bar and restaurant at the Intu Eldon Square shopping centre in Newcastle. The company had its application approved by the city council as it prepares to make its first foray into the north east of England. It will be allowed to sell alcohol daily from 10am to 2am, reports Chronicle Live. The company has signed a 25-year lease on a 6,600 square foot unit to open in the Grey Quarter – the complex’s new £25m dining zone. The venue is double-fronted, facing in towards the mall and out to Nelson Street. The Alchemist, which was launched in Manchester in 2010, also has sites in Leeds and London and is set to open in Birmingham and Liverpool.
Former Gordon Ramsay chef starts expanding cafe concept Chriskitch with Hoxton Market launch: London-based Chriskitch, the cafe concept launched by former Gordon Ramsay chef Christian Honor, has started expansion with its second site in the capital, this time in Hoxton Market. Honor launched Chriskitch, which has a small, stripped-back menu focusing on a few seasonal ingredients, in Muswell Hill in 2013. Unlike the debut site, the new Chriskitch is offering breakfast, brunch and dinner on top of lunch, and is also licensed. Chefs use an open-fire grill, with the menu changing every day, using fresh ingredients from the market. The beers are sourced from a local micro-brewery and Honor is also serving his own cola creation, which contains lavender, cinnamon and burnt sugar. He told Ham & High: “I think in terms of combinations. I mix up the flavours and textures and, at the same time, make it appeal to the eye. Mostly I add a good pinch of the unexpected.” For 15 years, Honor worked in some of the most prestigious kitchens in the world, including Restaurant Gordon Ramsay Royal Hospital Road and The Dorchester.
Bath Pub Company opens fourth city bar following deal with Enterprise: The Bath Pub Company has opened its fourth bar in the city – The Dolphin Inn. The company took on the lease of the Locksbrook Road pub in March and has now reopened it as the Locksbrook Inn following a £250,000 joint refurbishment with landlord Enterprise Inns. The daily menu comprises small plates, sharing platters, salads, hand-tossed pizette, homemade burgers and classic dishes, while weekend brunch and Sunday lunches are also served. Joe Cussens, director of The Bath Pub Company, told the Bath Chronicle: “We feel it’s important to reflect the location and individual character of our pubs. There’s something special about being on the water’s edge. We hope we’ve created a space that makes everyone feel welcome and, if they live or work nearby, feel proud to call their local. The menu and offering is firmly grounded in relaxed, gastro-pub territory, but with a few surprises.” The Bath Pub Company also operates Chequers Bar, the Marlborough Tavern and the Hare and Hounds in the city.
Marston’s chief executive – ‘we looked at leaving Wolverhampton’: Marston’s chief executive Ralph Findlay has told the newspaper in its Wolverhampton base that the company considered looking at an alternative base before deciding to stay in the city. But he stressed that moving into the new £10m headquarters – Marston’s House in Brewery Road –earlier this year had proved to be a great decision. He told the Express and Star: “It is proving a great investment, not just for Marston’s but for the city. It was an important statement for us to make and was a significant investment of £10m in Wolverhampton. Before spending it, we did think ‘should we look at an alternative and go somewhere else?’ but we eventually decided the majority of our staff work in the city and are from the area and the best thing was to stay in Wolverhampton. It was a big statement and shows our confidence in Wolverhampton as well.”
Patisserie Valerie opens first Northern Ireland site: Patisserie Valerie, the company that has sector investor Luke Johnson as executive chairman, has opened its first site in Northern Ireland. The company has opened the outlet in Donegall Square, Belfast, creating 25 jobs. It offers the brand’s patisserie and cakes range, which are hand-made by bakers on-site. Chief executive Paul May told the Belfast Telegraph: “We’re really excited about opening our Belfast cafe, especially as it’s our first to open in Northern Ireland. Customers have been asking us to come to the city for a long time, our store in Belfast is just the start of our expansion into Northern Ireland, where we hope to open more stores in the future.” Patisserie Valerie, launched in 1926 in Soho, London, by Belgian-born Madame Valerie, has more than 110 sites throughout the UK.
Brewhouse & Kitchen opens in Cheltenham: Independent pub group Brewhouse & Kitchen has opened a site in Cheltenham. The company has opened the 5,000 square foot site at The Brewery – the Gloucestershire town’s new leisure scheme in St Margarets Road. As well as its own-brewed beers, the venue offers a beer-matched food menu and brewing masterclasses and events. Beers on offer are named after “the great and good of Cheltenham”, including session bitter Crystal Rock – a tribute to Richard O’Brien, presenter of Channel 4 show The Crystal Maze, who also wrote comedy horror musical The Rocky Horror Show. There is also Colonel Jack Traditional IPA, named after Colonel Claude Reignier Conder, who was born in the town in 1848. Remembered for his esteemed military career, Conder was later named by modern day author Tom Sleman as potentially being the notorious Jack the Ripper. Brewhouse & Kitchen managing director Kris Gumbrell said: “We’re really excited to bring the Brewhouse & Kitchen concept to Cheltenham. The brewery is the perfect destination for us within the town centre and the history of the site fits well with our love for brewing craft ales.” Brewhouse & Kitchen has 13 sites, including in Bristol, Poole and Southampton.
New tapas-style concept based on British produce to launch in Hull: No 6 Kitchenette, a restaurant offering tapas-style plates of British produce, will launch in Hull in June. The venue in Newland Avenue will take over restaurant Henry Yeast & Son, which is relocating to Humber Street. No 6 Kitchenette owner Chris Uttley told Hull Daily Mail: “We want to lend ourselves to British charcuterie, local cheese and show what Great Britain has to offer. The restaurant will have a sharing feel, where people can graze over plates of food. We want to celebrate local and British food. People can still order main dishes as well. We will cater for everyone. The seasonal nature of the menu will keep the chefs’ brains ticking over when they visit fish, meat and vegetable markets. We will also be able to offer a rolling specials menu, depending on what produce we have.”
New vegan and vegetarian restaurant concept opens in Middlesbrough: A new vegan and vegetarian restaurant concept has opened in Middlesbrough. Shirley Smith has launched The Green Room in Borough Road, which operates as a cafe by day and bistro at night. During the day, the venue serves snacks, meals, soups, sandwiches, salads, smoothies, milkshakes, and cakes. In the evening, a three-course menu is on offer alongside a choice of wines, beers and cocktails. Main courses include chilli none carni, a trio of curries, pesto pasta and chickless and veg pot pie. Smith, who has been vegan for three years, told Gazette Live: “People are also choosing to cut out meat and animal products for health reasons. But we feel there is a definite shortfall in restaurants catering for these people – that’s why we wanted to do this. We are a vegan restaurant that offers vegetarian options. Normally it is the other way around.”
Bistrot Pierre to open 15th site, in Birmingham in July: Private equity-backed restaurant group Bistrot Pierre will open its 15th site – in Birmingham on Friday, 1 July. The company, which received a £9.8m investment from Livingbridge in December, is launching the site in Gas Street. It is refurbishing the former headquarters of the Birmingham Canal Company into a new restaurant for up to 120 diners. Co-owner Rob Beacham said: “This stunning building has such a fantastic story to tell. We’re proud to restore it and keep the city’s rich heritage alive. Formally a hub for the city’s transport industry, the building played a major role in the industrial development and was considered the life-blood of Victorian Birmingham. The archway, where thousands of boats passed through, will be reopened with a glass front so passers-by can see the bistrot’s wine cellar located in the vaults. As well as being the first street in the country to have gas lighting, Gas Basin was integral to the city’s economy during the 19th century.” Many of the grade II-listed building’s original features will remain, such as the wrought iron staircase and brass door handle, ornately engraved with the number 46. The building’s courtyard is being refurbished to create additional outdoor seating and a two-storey glazed extension will create additional seating with canal views. It will be the group’s third restaurant to open in just 12 months and the company, formed by Beacham and John Whitehead more than 20 years ago, is set for further expansion this year with openings in Weston-Super-Mare, Swansea and Altrincham.
Dean’s Diner opens ninth site, in Yate: Dean’s Diner, the American diner brand owned by Richoux Group, has opened its ninth site – in Yate, Gloucestershire. The brand has launched the venue at the £25m Yate Riverside retail and leisure complex. It has joined restaurant brands including Nando’s, Prezzo and Frankie & Benny’s, which is owned by The Restaurant Group, at the 98,000 square foot development, which also features a six-screen Cineworld cinema.
Premium Italian prosecco brand Scavi & Ray chooses Bristol for first bar: Premium Italian prosecco brand Scavi & Ray has chosen Bristol to open its first bar. The company is opening the venue at The Mall in Cribbs Causeway shopping centre, reports the Bristol Post. Hoardings have appeared on a unit next to the food court advertising the company’s impending arrival, stating: “Scavi & Ray believes only the best will do and offers shoppers its range of the finest Italian prosecco, sweet treats, savoury delights, cocktails and coffee. Come and join us for a morning coffee, a lunchtime snack or simply to watch the world go by with a glass of bubbles in the first Scavi & Ray prosecco bar in the world. Haven’t got time to stop? Takeaways are also available on most of our snacks, coffees and bottles of prosecco.”
Tim Martin to visit 100 pubs in a month to make Brexit case: Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin is to visit 100 of the company’s pubs in the next four weeks in the lead up to the EU Referendum vote (June 23). Martin, a leading campaigner for Brexit, will be speaking with customers during the pub visits to discuss the arguments for leaving the EU. To tie in with the EU Referendum vote, Wetherspoon has printed 280,000 copies of its Wetherspoon News magazine, which will feature an EU special as well as 500,000 copies of an EU magazine, offering the views of leading “Remain” and “Leave” people. Martin said: “The EU Referendum is extremely important and I believe it is vital that voters are given the arguments both for and against, so they can make up their minds. Our Wetherspoon News EU special brings together a number of articles, which I hope people will read and help them make up their mind on which way they are going to vote. I look forward to speaking with Wetherspoon customers during the next four weeks in our pubs across the UK as part of the EU Referendum debate.”
Italian restaurant group Salvi’s to open restaurant in Rochdale, third Greater Manchester site: Manchester-based Italian restaurant group Salvi’s will launch its third restaurant, this time based in a Rochdale pub. Salvi’s Osteria will open in The Norden Arms in Edenfield Road in June, offering a “relaxed, rustic dining experience inspired by traditional Italian osterie (wine bars serving simple food)”. The menu will feature the same Neapolitan influences as owner Maurizio Cecco’s city centre operations – Salvi’s Mozzarella Bar in the Corn Exchange and Salvi’s Cucina and Rosticceria in John Dalton Street – while reflecting the restaurant’s more rural setting with plenty of wild, local ingredients. Cecco, who lives in Rochdale with wife and business partner Claire, told Manchester Evening News: “When I was asked to get involved with The Norden Arms, I was drawn to the idea of creating a more rural setting for my Italian food. I’m really excited about the prospect of bringing a taste of authentic Italy to my own neighbourhood.”
Greggs debuts in Belfast city centre: Greggs has opened its first city centre store in Northern Ireland in Belfast’s Royal Avenue, creating 15 jobs. The move follows the recent opening of Greggs’ first company-managed operation in Boucher Retail Park, which is trading well and has proved to be a popular addition to the area. The new Royal Avenue eatery offers savouries and sandwiches, as well as a range of confectionary products. Stephen Hodgson, shop manager of Greggs in Royal Avenue, said: “I’m very proud to be managing this new shop and we’re looking forward to hearing what the people of Belfast think of their first city centre Greggs.” Raymond Reynolds, retail director for Greggs, added: “We’re delighted to be able to invest in this prime Belfast location and provide our valued customers with a modern and convenient new shop. From our traditional sausage rolls to our sandwiches and flatbreads, our freshly ground coffee to our range of sweet treats, Greggs in Royal Avenue will provide a welcome boost for all those shopping, visiting and working in Belfast’s thriving city centre.”
Burger & Lobster to open tenth London site at West India Quay next week, first venue with outdoor terrace: Burger & Lobster will open its tenth site in London next week at West India Quay. The company is launching the venue in the former Via unit off Hertsmere Road on Thursday, 2 June. It will be the company’s first site to feature an outdoor terrace, complete with a Pina Cola-Bar where frozen cocktails will be served, reports The Wharf. Other variations include an attempt to cater for a wider range of appetites, with a smaller 6oz burger on the menu alongside the traditional 10oz offering. Lobster will be served by the kilo or kilo and a half. There will also be a craft beer bar, serving ten draught beers and 16 bottled beers, opening later in the year. The company, which was founded in 2011 and has 16 restaurants worldwide, is planning to add nine sites this year to have a 25-strong estate by the end of 2016.
London-based Angel Comedy Club turns to crowdfunding for permanent home: London-based Angel Comedy Club is poised to move to a new purpose-built venue – and has turned to crowdfunding to make it happen. The club has been operating in a small room above the Camden Head in Islington for the past six years. Now running seven nights a week, it sells out frequently with its free-entry policy. Its promoters said: “We’re running out of space plus, if the landlords want their room back, we’re out of a venue. We also have dreams, big dreams, that need more space than a borrowed pub function room.” It has secured the lease on an old Victorian pub nearby formerly known as The Mucky Pup and is seeking £20,000 through crowdfunding platform Kickstarter to bring the site back into use, reports Chortle. Promoter and regular compere Barry Ferns said he had effectively paid for the lease on its new venue in change – thanks to audiences paying what they want at the end of each show. The club hopes to open the new site by September and the team said: “If you’ve ever been to Angel Comedy, if you’ve ever had a great night for free, or almost free, or discovered a great new comedian, or like the spirit that we run it in, or just enjoyed it for what it is – please support us. We literally can’t do this without your support.”
BrewDog to build stand-alone sour beer facility in Ellon: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog will build a stand-alone sour facility across the road from its brewery in Ellon, near Aberdeen, as it seeks to fuel the popularity of sour beers. In its blog, BrewDog stated: “There is one type of beer that remains well and truly of the moment. Sours. We love sours – and it seems you share that opinion as well, as every 12 months when #MashTag rolls around, sours leap from the comments thread. This is because they are fascinating, delicious, have captured the moment and possibly, above all, they have prestige due to how hard they are to brew. But we aren’t letting that stop us – we are building our own sour facility.” BrewDog said the facility had to be stand-alone as bacteria and wild yeasts involved in sours production can become a problem if they find their way into any part of a regular brewery. The company added: “If you want to do justice to something people are asking for time and again, then you need to give it your all or it’ll peak and trough back into the annals of the forgotten. Sours are here to stay – and we intend to ensure they do with this new project.”
Krispy Kreme takeover under investigation: An investigation has been launched into whether the acquisition of Krispy Kreme Doughnuts stock for $21.00 per share was unfair, according to Ground Report. The investigation by US law firm Rigrodsky & Long concerns whether Krispy Kreme Doughnuts directors breached their fiduciary duties owed to investors. On 9 May, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts and JAB Beech, an indirectly controlled subsidiary of JAB Holding Company, announced the companies had entered into a definitive merger agreement under which JAB Beech would acquire Krispy Kreme Doughnuts for $21.00 per share in cash or a total equity value of about $1.35bn. However, at least one analyst had set the high target price for Krispy Kreme Doughnuts shares at $24.00 per share and, given that after the takeover announcement shares in the open market reached as high as $21.24 per share, the investigation concerns whether the offer was unfair to stockholders. More specifically, the investigation concerns whether the Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Board of Directors undertook an adequate sales process, adequately shopped the company before entering into the transaction, maximised shareholder value by negotiating the best price, and acted in the shareholders’ best interests in connection with the proposed sale.
Columbo Group relaunches Jazz Cafe in Camden with nod to 1990s heyday: Columbo Group, led by Steve Ball and Riz Shaikh, has reopened Jazz Cafe in Camden following a major refurbishment to return the venue to its 1990s heyday. The 450-capacity Parkway site has hosted a mix of world-famous acts, including Bobby Womack, Chuck Berry, Lee Scratch Perry, Amy Winehouse and Courtney Pine. The venue is split into a bar, 69-cover mezzanine restaurant and dance floor, with the menu including southern-fried chicken with sweet potato mash, spring greens and country gravy, sweet soy-glazed salmon with kale and apple slaw, and hasselback carrots with bitter leaves, walnuts and harissa romesco. Food is served from 7pm to 11pm. Ball told Camden New Journal: “I remember I’d get really excited each month about what gigs I could get to see in the 1990s. It was so forward thinking, with a mix of vintage and new acts. They had reggae, soul, funk, hip-hop and jazz – whoever was managing it ten, 20 years ago was doing a frankly excellent job. It was the best live music venue in London – and we want to make it so again.” As well as the Jazz Cafe, which Columbo bought from Live Nation, the company owns nine other venues across London.
Taco Bell unveils four new restaurant designs in the US: Taco Bell, which is owned by Yum! Brands, has unveiled four new restaurant designs in the US to “reflect the vibrant communities in which they operate”. The four designs will make their debut in Orange County, California, this summer through existing restaurant remodels, with broader roll-out planned in 2016 including plans to expand in urban locations with the Taco Bell Cantina concept. The new designs are “Heritage”, which is inspired by its culinary roots in Mexican-inspired food with a twist and features white walls with classic materials in the tile and heavy timbers; “Modern Explorer”, which is a refined version of the brand’s Cantina Explorer inspired by the farms that make its food; “California Sol”, which is inspired by Taco Bell’s California roots and the California lifestyle with a “laid-back beachy feel” both inside and out; and “Urban Edge”, an eclectic mix of international and street style “done the Taco Bell way”. The new designs have been unveiled as part of the company’s expansion plans to open 2,000 new restaurants by 2022. Chief marketing officer Marisa Thalberg said: “While all four restaurant designs each have a different contextual personality, they all share a commonality in expressing Taco Bell’s brand like never before.” In 2015, Taco Bell also opened the first of its two “Cantina” restaurants in San Francisco and Chicago and is currently exploring further sites for the concept.